Sometimes during life as a military spouse, one will hear statements like, “You knew what you signed up for when you marry a military service member.” I used to accept this statement as true.
However, after many years as a military spouse, I admit that, no, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for. Especially at the beginning of my journey.
Before I being, let me state: I am very grateful and honored to be part of this community. I cannot express how exciting, educational, and inspiring it has been. But it also true that it can be quite challenging and overwhelming, especially if you are the type of person that finds it difficult to reach out for help.
Eighteen years ago, I moved to the United States, leaving my country, my family, and my job behind.
After all the excitement of the wedding, we finally settled down in our small apartment in Northern California. We were slowly starting our life as a married couple. As soon as my husband went back to work, he came home with the news: “I’m going TDY for 45 days.”
That’s when reality hit.
His life continued as usual and mine…well, it was kind of upside down. Everything was new. I remember the feeling of loneliness and how big that tiny apartment felt. I missed my new husband, and I was also very homesick. I knew that there was a military spouses’ group, but I had not met any of them or made new friends yet. I was not only new in a different country; I was new in the military world.
Those were six very long weeks, but it didn’t have to be that way. It could have been better if I would have reached out to my military spouse peers. All I needed were words of experience, encouragement, and maybe a little company.
Reaching out is not always easy because it involves being vulnerable with people you may not even know well. Sometimes you may not even speak the language well, and it is even more challenging to share your fears and uncertainties.
But it is in that simple act of sharing where you can find the support and connections that will give you the strength to go through the many more TDYs, deployments, and separations to come.
If you are a young new military spouse leaving everything behind (maybe even your own country) to start a new life, know that there is support.
There are many women and men who have already been through the same situations that you are going through now. No matter how independent one can feel or how ready you are, you do not have to prove anything to anyone. It is important to learn the art of reaching out for help. Even if you keep hearing that you knew what you signed up for.
Not sure where to start? Try some of these:
Local base resources: from Family Readiness Groups, Enlisted and Officer Spouses’ Clubs, and even intramural sports on base, there is a group for you and a place to meet people with common interest.
Social media: every duty station has a local Facebook group for spouses and families! These are usually run by volunteers, and you can ask questions or ask for recommendations. Also, make sure to check out the Military Spouses – Meet New Friends group run by our friend Matthew!
Networking groups: Our partners at AMSE offer Community Chapters, with 11 locations around the world. These are free, in-person groups for networking and business resources. Join their online community here!
Looking for more? Try some of these listed here by MilSpouse Fest.